How many more side projects do we not know about?!
Holy cow. The Associated Press has reported that former President Barack Obama’s administration attempted to give Iran access to U.S. banks despite sanctions in place and lied to Congress about said plans.
In 2016, a license issued by the Treasury Department gave Iran permission “to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars.”
The U.S. gave up a lot in Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, but some sanctions remained. It looks like Obama didn’t care:
An investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday sheds light on the delicate balance the Obama administration sought to strike after the deal, as it worked to ensure Iran received its promised benefits without playing into the hands of the deal’s opponents. Amid a tense political climate, Iran hawks in the U.S., Israel and elsewhere argued that the United States was giving far too much to Tehran and that the windfall would be used to fund extremism and other troubling Iranian activity.
The report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations revealed that under President Barack Obama, the Treasury Department issued a license in February 2016, never previously disclosed, that would have allowed Iran to convert $5.7 billion it held at a bank in Oman from Omani rials into euros by exchanging them first into U.S. dollars. If the Omani bank had allowed the exchange without such a license, it would have violated sanctions that bar Iran from transactions that touch the U.S. financial system.
The effort was unsuccessful because American banks — themselves afraid of running afoul of U.S. sanctions — declined to participate. The Obama administration approached two U.S. banks to facilitate the conversion, the report said, but both refused, citing the reputational risk of doing business with or for Iran.
Thank goodness those banks Obama confronted continued to care and refused to take part in this! The AP said it was not illegal to issue the license, but “it went above and beyond what the Obama administration was required to do under the terms of the nuclear agreement.”
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal provided “Iran billions of dollars in sanctions relief.” Then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified in 2015 that Iran’s regime “will continue to be denied access to the world’s largest financial and commercial market.” His top deputy, Adam Szubin, testified a month after Lew that “Iran will be denied access to the world’s most important market and unable to deal in the world’s most important currency.”
To no one’s shock, Iran complained after the sanctions relief started in January 2016 “that it wasn’t reaping the benefits it had envisioned” since sanctions tied to other issues like human rights scared off investors and banks.
Reports in 2016 show that Obama’s administration thought about more sanctions relief for Iran, including licenses like the one the Treasury Department issued. The administration faced opposition from both sides of the aisle in Congress with lawmakers insisting “that unless Tehran was willing to give up more, the U.S. shouldn’t give Iran anything more than it already had.”
The AP reported in March 2016 the Treasury “prepared a draft of a license” to give Iran what it desired:
That same week, the AP reported that the Treasury had prepared a draft of a license that would have given Iran much broader permission to convert its assets from foreign currencies into easier-to-spend currencies like euros, yen or rupees, by first exchanging them for dollars at offshore financial institutions.
The draft involved a general license, a blanket go-ahead that allows all transactions of a certain type, rather than a specific license like the one given to Oman’s Bank Muscat, which only covers specific transactions and institutions. The proposal would have allowed dollars to be used in currency exchanges provided that no Iranian banks, no Iranian rials and no sanctioned Iranian individuals or businesses were involved, and that the transaction did not begin or end in U.S. dollars.
Yet, Obama and his administration told lawmakers “that a general license wouldn’t be coming.”
The AP said no officials would provide a comment for the record, but they did say that “the decision to grant the license had been made in line with the spirit of the deal.” They brushed off the lies told to Congress and the American people because it had to be done in order “to dispel incorrect reports about nonexistent proposals that would have gone much farther by letting Iran actually buy or sell things in dollars.”
Um, okay…I don’t know how that makes sense, but Obama’s administration always excelled in spinning.
How much more evidence do we need to show us that Obama’s administration did as much as they to please Tehran?
Look at Project Cassandra. Last December, a Politico investigation revealed that Obama’s administration stopped a plan “targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States.” Officials involved in Project Cassandra faced many “roadblocks” as they “sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions.”
David Asher, the man behind Project Cassandra, told Politico that the administration “ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
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